…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. [2 Corinthians 3:17]
Freedom and independence from government intrusion has been a battle for mankind from the beginning of civilization. History is replete with the formation of one tyrannical form of government after another, all usurping our God-given rights to life, liberty and our pursuit of happiness.
Liberty in the Declaration of Independence
Our right to worship God freely is often the barometer measuring our loss of liberty. History also bears witness that mankind endures such usurpations until they become unbearable. Our founders understood this human trait when they wrote the following words in our Declaration of Independence:
…that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
The history of the founding of this nation is one that records the triumph of a few over the tyranny of the mighty. Most accounts agree that less than 10 percent of the population of the American Colonies became the Revolutionaries we have come to regard as our founding fathers – others remained loyal to the crown and most remained indifferent. As our patriotic holidays draw near, we would do well to remember that the heroes we celebrate as our founders would have been called traitors and hung if they had not been successful. Knowing this, they preserved against all odds. They were undoubtedly driven – but driven by what? An idea? A yearning to be free? Or something or someone else? Before answering that, let’s take a stroll through history and look at a few of the others who beat the odds for the sake of liberty.
Moses, giver of liberty
3600-years-ago a Hebrew baby was saved by an Egyptian princess from his journey down the Nile River in a basket. She named him Moses, which means “drawn from the river.” His survival was a miracle. He went on to become an accomplished Egyptian general with a secretive heritage. At the age of 40 he fled in fear from Egypt after killing to protect a Hebrew slave. Moses spent the next 40 years living as the son-in-law of Jethro in the desert land of Midian. It was there that he was called by God at the age of 80 to go back to Egypt and deliver his people from the oppressive slavery they had endured for 400 years.
The story of Moses is well-known but seldom do we focus on the humanly impossible task he was assigned. Egypt was a world power that benefited greatly from slavery. Moses was one man – one man who was called by God to deliver approximately 2 to 3 million from a mighty military power. God’s Spirit rested on Moses and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Moses succeeded because he was led by God and with that leading came the power to accomplish his task.
Gideon, Elijah, and the Apostles, fighters for liberty
Gideon was another man of God who lived during a time when the Midianites and Amalekites were suppressing the people of Israel. The Book of Judges tells us that the people were suffering this oppression due to their falling back into worshipping the idol Baal. But the Spirit of the Lord rested on Gideon and he was called to liberate the Israelites as one man (Judges 6:12,16). Gideon managed to recruit an army of 32,000 to fight against 135,000. However, God wanted to be sure that everyone knew that it was God who would fight and win this battle, so He had Gideon whittle down his army to 300. The odds were 450 to 1, but with God and army of 1 is unstoppable. Gideon followed God’s plan, and without his army having to raise a sword, the Midianites were thrown into such a panic and confusion that many committed suicide or killed their comrades while others fled. Against all odds Gideon, with the Spirit of the Lord, defeated the Midianites and the nation of Israel was free and secure.
The prophet Elijah lived during the 9th century B.C. during the tyrannical and ungodly reign of King Ahab and his evil queen, Jezebel. During the time of Elijah idol worship and religious tolerance was politically acceptable. He challenged the prophets of the idol Baal and won an incomparable victory, after which he fled for his life from the evil Queen. At that time Elijah felt he alone worshipped the one true God, but God assured him that he wasn’t alone – that God had reserved 7,000 to Himself – those who had not bowed their knee to the idol god Baal. The Spirit of God rested on Elijah and he understood that Israel had to preserve its religious freedom in order to end its bondage to the evil Queen. Against all odds, Elijah and the remnant God reserved were able to restore Israel to its former greatness and preserve its liberty.
During the time of Christ, the nation of Israel was under Roman occupation and living under oppression. Christ recruited 12 men to follow him, 11 of whom went on to change the world after His death. Against all odds they ushered in a theology of peace and liberty. Unfortunately, their theology throughout time was often perverted and/or eradicated from practice by various countries – all of whom tyrannically oppressed their citizens.
America at her founding, and today
Our founders followed in the paths of Moses, Gideon, Elijah, and the Apostles to fight against all odds for liberty – chief amongst these liberties was the right to worship God freely. At times they all felt alone and discouraged. They felt the battle was all but lost. Oppression, tyranny, and loss of religious freedom often are the hallmarks of governments that turn their back on God. But God knows how to keep His own – and He knows who are His own. Our founders, like others in the past who relied on God, prevailed against the greatest super power of their time.
Today many in America are seeing an unprecedented loss of religious freedom, and this loss is accompanied by an ever-increasing tyrannical government. Although at times we may feel like we are alone and fighting against impossible odds, where the Spirit of the Lord is there is still liberty.
Ultimately, answering the question of whether or not the fate of this nation is doomed, we must first ask – Is God with us? That question can be answered by asking another question – Are we with God?
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